Category: Memories and Nostalgia

In Memoriam

June 1, 2020 – September 30, 2020

ClassNameDegrees
1942Stanley F. Kramer Jr’42 BS Mechanical Engineering
1943Dr. Michael Lauriente’43 BS Metallurgical Engineering, ’46 MS Metallurgical Engineering
1949Lyle W. Barden49 BS Forestry
1949Thomas F. Hruby’49 BS Mining Engineering
1949Russell A. Johnson’49 BS Forestry
1950Franklin M. Eastland’50 BS Electrical Engineering
1950Lawrence H. Jacobson Jr’50 BS Forestry
1950George E. Jewell’50 BS Forestry
1950Donald L. Martindale’50 BS Forestry
1951Duaine K. Wenzel’51 BS Forestry
1953George W. Lizenby’53 BS Forestry
1954David P. Cicchi’54 BS Mining Engineering
1954Paul J. Gottwald’54 BS Forestry
1954Thomas E. Smith’54 BS Business Engineering Admin, BS Forestry
1954Jack C Watson’54 BS Forestry
1955Leonard J. Arasim’55 BS Forestry
1955Dr. John P. Daniels’55 BS Forestry
1955Clarence W. Hultman’55BS Mechanical Engineering
1955Auvo I. Kemppinen’55 BS Metallurgical Engineering, ’56 MS Metallurgical Engineering
1955David E. Ottoson’55 BS Forestry
1956George J. Krawchuk’56 BS Forestry
1957William O. Maki’57 BS Forestry
1957George H. Sheppard, Jr.’57 BS Forestry
1958John S. Budzinski’58 BS Chemical Engineering
1958Michael T. Kenney’58 BS Mechanical Engineering
1958Owen D. Marjama’58 BS Metallurgical Engineering
1958Richard L. Slocum’58 BS Metallurgical Engineering
1959Jack E. Horak’59 BS Forestry
1959Orville J. Vanderlin’59 BS Forestry
1960Ronald N Wallis’60 BS Mechanical Engineering
1961Raymond L. Anderson’61 BS Civil Engineering
1961Gary H. Gay’61 BS Mechanical Engineering
1961Dr. Raymond W. Kauppila, P.E.’61 MS Engineering Mechanics
1961Hugh M. McKee’61 BS Mechanical Engineering
1962Robert G. Artis’62 BS Forestry
1962William E. Morden’62 BS Forestry
1963Richard A. Greketis’63 BS Metallurgical Engineering, ’65 BS Business Engineering Admin
1963Peter M Tomlinson’63 BS Forestry
1964Cecilia J. Faw’64 BS Chemistry
1964Dr. Edward S. Neumann P.E.’64 BS Civil Engineering
1966John B. Mitchell’66 BS Electrical Engineering
1968George F. Blass’68 BS Mechanical Engineering, MS Mechanical Engineering
1968Robert C. Stohl’68 BS Business Administration
1969George W. Beeby’69 BS Business Administration
1969Daniel E. Bush P.E.’69 BS Mechanical Engineering
1970Larry R. Gifford’70 BS Mechanical Engineering
1970Michael W. Hill’70 BS Business Administration
1970Harry J. House’70 AAS Forest Technology
1970Raymond J. Rought’70 BS Civil Engineering
1971Joseph Mark Krcmarik’71 BS Civil Engineering
1971David E. Rakoniewski’71 BS Medical Technology
1973Dennis E. Fritcher’73 BS Metallurgical Engineering
1974Paul L. Just’74 BS Chemical Engineering
1975Thomas P. Wells’75 BS Civil Engineering
1977Robert S. Thayer’77 BS Forestry
1979Paul J. Trasti’79 AAS Nursing Technology
1980Richard J. Kemmer’80 BS Business Administration
1981Bertrand A. Cresswell’81 BS Business Administration
1981Ralf G. Grisard’81 BS Forestry
1981Martin L. Swim’81 BS Electrical Engineering
1984Patrick J. Prus’84 BS Mining Engineering
1985Paul F. Smith’85 BS Electrical Engineering
1986Dr. Shu-Zu Lu’86 PHD Metallurgical Engineering
1986Bruce M. Sartorelli’86 AAS Electromechanical Eng Tech
1987Katherine M. Foster’87 BS Forestry
1987Eugene F. Hammond’87 BS Business Administration
1987Joseph P. Periard’87 BS Computer Science
1988Richard C. Nelson’88 BS Electrical Engineering
1989Todd E. French’89 BS Physics
1990Darrell E. Reed’90 BS Civil Engineering
1991P. Steven Raeder’91 BS Forestry
1992Pauline Joy Easterling’92 BS Business Administration
2002Michael P. Chipman’02 BS Mechanical Engineering
2004Ryan P. Walega’04 BS Computer Science
2014Coleen E. Huling’14 BS Civil Engineering

Remembering Professors Filer, Julien, and Kieckhafer

Robert F. “Bob” Filer passed peacefully in the presence of his wife Debby on July 2, 2020, due to complications of Parkinson’s Disease, at Canal View where he had been residing for a year. His wife visited with him twice daily until COVID struck and then she faithfully sent reassuring love letters each day, with photographs, to hold him close.

Born in Greenville Pennsylvania, raised by his loving parents Charlotte and Robert Filer, his childhood was idyllic. During high school he worked part-time at a Chevrolet Dealership and, when he graduated, he received the Class Physics Award. Bob earned a Five-year Bachelor of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering at Gannon College and became licensed as a Profession Engineer in Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.  
Bob served in the US Army from 1964-1965, and then in the Army National Guard and the Air National Guard, being Honorably Discharged from the US Air Force in 1974 as a 1st Lieutenant.  

He was employed by Pennsylvania Electric and McGraw-Edison in both Pennsylvania and in Ohio. Bob was then employed as a Project Engineer at Systems Control, in Iron Mountain Michigan. His professional experience greatly benefited his students, as a Professor in the Electrical Engineering Technology Program at Michigan Technological University, from 1975 to 2003, retiring as a Full Professor with Emeritus status. 

Bob married Marilyn (Smith) Filer, having children Mark, Kristan, and Anne. Later he married Barbara (Stover) Filer and, with her, had his fourth child Sarah. He and Debby (Bose) Filer met in 2002, married, then retired from Tech and created a loving and energetic life together. 

He was a member of the American Society for Engineering Education and the First United Methodist Church.  He supported Relay for Life many years.  Bob was an outdoor man and enjoyed tennis, scuba diving, bird-watching, white water canoeing, camping, hiking, mountain biking, cross country skiing, and snowshoeing. Bob also valued hiking in New Zealand where he, with Barbara and Sarah, spent a sabbatical year teaching at the Central Institute of Technology. He was also a runner and completed Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth. 

He and Debby added indoor “spinning” and rowing workouts to their activities. They also began to road bicycle together. Bob and Deb, with four of their children, rode Minnesota’s “Habitat 500” eight years, a 500 mile 7-day bicycle ride supporting Habitat for Humanity.  All of the funds they raised they contributed to their local Copper Country Chapter. He and Deb also relished traveling to visit their eight children and to hike National Parks.  Bob credited his wife Debby with postponing his illness and then delaying its progression by unfailingly encouraging their very active lifestyle and optimism.

He was preceded in death by his parents, friend Dale Walivaara, Barbara Filer, and his sister Mary Jane (Filer) Marx. Surviving are his loving wife Debby Bose Filer, blessed and privileged to marry her beloved and cherished husband; sister Nancy (Paul) Ceremuga of Pauline South Carolina; four children Mark (Gwen) Filer of Manitowoc Wisconsin, Kristan (David) Coleman of Irvine California, Anne (James) Walker of Oakland California, and Sarah (Beanie) Zollweg of Manhattan New York;  four step-children, Lydia (Fabian de Kok-Mercado) Gregg of Ellicott City Maryland, David (Kristina) Gregg of Portage Michigan, Dan Gregg of Ypsilanti Michigan, and Jane (Philip Hofer) Gregg of Seattle Washington; five grandchildren, Calvin, Amelia, Cody, Chloe, and Madison; five European High School exchange students; and numerous nieces and nephews. 

—Courtesy of O’Neill Dennis Funeral Home.


Larry Marlin Julien passed away August 27, 2020 at home in Houghton, Mi with family at his side after a 4 year battle with brain cancer and Parkinson’s.

Larry was born August 16, 1937 in Nora Springs, Iowa to George and Lorette (Swartwood) Julien. When he was 11 years old, he moved with his family to a farm near Fairchild, Wisc where he lived until he graduated from Fairchild High School in 1955. He then went to college at University of Wisc, Madison before enlisting into the Marine Corp from 1956 to 1958, leaving with the rank of Corporal to return to college.

He attended Univ of Wisc, River Falls, earning a BS in Chemistry and Math in 1962. He was Senior Class President; Captain of the Wrestling team, State Champion heavy weight wrestler 3 years and one year runner up, and National Champion wrestling runner up one year; Captain of the Football team and named All Conference Football team his final year. He was contacted by a pro football team inviting him to their team, but decided to continue his education. He was inducted into the first River Falls, Athletic Hall of Fame for both Wrestling and Football. During that time, Larry had 2 daughters, Sandra and Elizabeth from his marriage to Olga (Mazurak) Julien. He went on to grad school at the University of Iowa, Iowa City, where he received his Doctorate in Physical Chemistry in 1966.

After graduation, Larry knew he wanted to live and work in the northern Midwest, so he drew a line on a map between Minneapolis and Midland, Mich and applied to teach at 6 colleges that were located north of that line. He visited 5 of those campuses and was given job offers from all 5 of them. He chose Michigan Tech because he was so impressed with students all busy studying in the Student Union. He taught at MTU from 1966 until his retirement in 2000. Classes he taught included Physical Chemistry, Quantum Chem, Statistics, Advanced graduate P Chem, and Freshman Chem classes where he used lots of chemical demonstrations in his lectures. He developed and taught summers “Computers for the classroom” to High School Science Teachers from across the nation, (when many profs at Tech still did not use computers yet) and volunteered doing after-school science programs at local schools. He served 2 years as president of the University Faculty Senate, he was University Ombudsman, and was Marshal for the MTU graduation ceremonies.

Larry enjoyed fishing with all his kids as they grew up, and watching them all in sports, traveling to watch all their games and practices. He was a boy scout leader, a youth soccer and baseball coach, a softball player/coach, excellent bowler and played the NBA for years at Tech (noon basketball). He loved to watch his daughters in track, drill team, cheerleading, and figure skating practices and competitions. He loved to take week-long adventures in canoes to fish the remote rivers of Canada with his friends, and sons when they got old enough to join these trips. He liked living in the country, especially living on Lake Superior for 35 years in a house he and wife Connie built themselves at the end of a long road. Larry was a friend to all he met and was always willing to listen or help them in any way he could; and all his kids agree he was the best dad ever!

After retirement, Larry enjoyed 18 holes of golf every weekday morning in the summers and then chatting with friends every morning at downtown cafés in the winter. He and his wife Connie (Thompson) celebrated their 38th wedding anniversary on August 23rd.

Larry is survived by his wife, Connie, a brother, Randy (Jane) Julien of Fairchild, Wi and sister Janice Pierce in Menomonie, Wisc. Daughter Sandra (Chuck) in Woodbury, MN who have 3 children, Samantha, Patrick and Jeff Nordeen. Daughter Elizabeth (Dave) in Woodbury, MN who have one daughter, Kimberly Doerr (soon to be a Physician.)

Larry married Connie (Thompson) Julien in 1982 and they have two sons. Jason (Tara) who have 2 preschool children, Chase and his sister Charlie Julien in Waukesha, Wis. Jonathan (Jennifer) have 2 preschool girls, Esrey and Malone in Houghton.

—Courtesy of Memorial Chapel and Plowe Funeral Service.


Professor Roger Kieckhafer was an inventor, engineer, researcher, educator, veteran and valued faculty member of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. He died on Friday, July 17, in a tragic vehicle-bicycle accident. He was 69.

The loss to the faculty and staff in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the College of Engineering is immense. We will not recover quickly from the shock of his death.

Roger received his bachelor’s degree in nuclear engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1974 and earned his master’s and PhD in electrical engineering from Cornell University in 1982 and 1983, respectively. The years between were spent in service to the US Navy as a nuclear officer aboard the Trident missile submarine USS Abraham Lincoln. He also supervised the construction of the USS Indianapolis. His time in industry was also well spent, producing several patents that were licensed to Allied Signal, now Honeywell Corporation.

Roger was fond of classical music, particularly opera, and sang in the Copper Country Chorale, often accompanied by his daughter, Maggie, on organ. He also sang in the prestigious Pine Mountain Music Festival, including the premiere of the opera “Rockland,” based on the story of the 1906 miner strike in Rockland, Michigan.

Roger was instrumental in creating the computer engineering degree program at Michigan Tech. Working with Dr. Linda Ott in the Department of Computer Science in the College of Sciences and Arts, he bridged the gap between two departments in two separate colleges, crafting a program that educated hundreds — a new breed of engineer steeped in both worlds.

Even after the development of the computer engineering program, Roger’s collaboration with the Department of Computer Science continued. “We worked together on a strategic hiring initiative, multiple curricular issues, reorganization discussions and countless other issues,” said Ott, the chair of the Department of Computer Science. “Roger was always supportive. He clearly believed that we would have stronger programs working together rather than competing.”

Roger was a strong advocate for the ABET accreditation process in the ECE department. He led the initial ABET accreditation of the Computer Engineering program. The procedures and processes he set in place then are still in play nearly 20 years later, guiding the department’s subsequent accreditation for both its electrical engineering and computer engineering degrees.

In the words of computer engineering faculty member Kit Cischke, “For Roger, it always boiled down to what was best for our students. The content of our classes. The things our students needed to know to get good jobs. The assignments. The kinds of things they needed to do in the real world. Students were forever contacting Roger after graduation, saying, ‘Thanks for teaching me that. I’m using it every day in my job.’”

Over the past few days, Roger’s former students have reached out to express their grief and sadness. They have shared how much Roger meant to them during their time at Michigan Tech and how well he prepared them for the success they enjoy today. One of those students was Joseph Rabaut. In his words, “I can’t tell you how devastated I am. Dr. Kieckhafer was an amazing person and one of the best professors at Tech. He helped me a lot throughout the past few years, giving me advice and recommendations, and helping me understand computer engineering. I don’t really know what else to say, because words can’t really describe losing him.”

Roger cared deeply for his students, his family, and his profession. I think that may be the source we can draw upon to comfort our own sense of sadness and grief. The impact he had on hundreds of lives will shine on.

And, as we move forward, his legacy will live on. As suggested by several people, a scholarship fund will be set up in Roger’s memory.

—Written by Glen Archer, Interim Chair, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Roger’s official obituary can be read here.


Things I Learned at Michigan Tech

A thread on Facebook allowed Michigan Tech Alumni to share nuggets of wisdom acquired in the Copper Country. Below are some of those responses. Add yours in the comments below!


Nerds rule … Numbers don’t lie … “Because research has proven it” is an acceptable answer … People with toolboxes have a lot of acquaintances … Make friends with the people with the keys … Euchre is an art form … Invest in quality jumper cables. 
—Jerry Myers

Snowbanks at the end of your driveway somehow become magnetic, and will suck cars into them … Hiking boots are always in fashion. So is flannel … It is possible to walk uphill, both ways, to school.
—Carla Martinek

Brooms are meant to be clipped, taped, and used on ice.
—Rebecca Miner

F=MA … Physics is fun … You can’t push a rope.
—Brian Hobbs

Chemistry says if you soak the rope and freeze it, you can push it just fine.
—James Learman

Keep a snow shovel in the car at all times.
—Megan Kreiger

“It depends” is a legitimate answer for many engineering questions (courtesy of Jim De Clerck).
—Ross Hogan

Anyone with a Michigan Tech sticker on their car is a friend I have not yet met … Pizza and a beer is always an acceptable dinner choice … Chili is good over rice.
—Caryn Turrel

Taco Bell tastes better when you drive 100 miles for it.
—David Wressell

“Pank” is a real word.
—Jim Desrochers

Floormats make great traction aid devices … Always supervise friends “borrowing” your garage and insist on the use of jackstands.
—Alicia Steele

Cafeteria trays are actually sleds.
—Robin Book

When shoveling, throw snow back as far as you can in the beginning of the season.
—Tanya Bedore


Pasty Recipe

Michigan Tech Dining Services uses the following recipe for making Cornish Pasties. What is your recipe or variation that you like? Share in the comments below!

Pastry Ingredients:

  • 4 cups cold all-purpose flour (cold)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 8 ounces Crisco (cold)
  • 1 cup ice cold water

Filling Ingredients:

  • 1 # raw skirt steak, diced
  • 2 cups peeled, diced, red potatoes
  • 2 cups diced yellow onions
  • 2 cups shredded rutabaga
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 ¾ teaspoons black pepper
  • 4 knobs butter

Egg Wash:

  • 1 egg with a little water added, beaten well

Instructions:

1.       In a chilled bowl, thoroughly combine flour and salt. Once combined, gently rub the Crisco onto the flower to form large flasks for a flaky crust.

2.       Add water and mix until the dough just comes together. Form dough into 4 disks, individually wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until set.

3.       To make the pasty filling combine the onion, potatoes, and rutabaga in a bowl. Mix in the salt and pepper.

4.       On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into 4, 10” disks.

5.       Place ¼ of the filling mixture near the top of each 10” pastry round. Top with beef, place a knob of butter on the beef, and then add a pinch of flour and salt and pepper on top.

6.       Wet edge of pastry with a little water. Fold to seal. Crimp edges with a tool or fork, brush each pastry with egg wash, and bake 45-50 minutes at 400﮿F. 


Remembering Tom Hruby and Raymond Kauppila

Thomas F. Hruby, 93, a longtime Houghton resident, died on Tuesday, June 30, 2020, at Gardenview Assisted Living and Memory Care. He was born July, 13, 1926, in Cleveland, Ohio, a son of the late Alois and Lillian (Vevra) Hruby.

Tom was a WWII veteran of the United States Merchant Marines serving from 1944-46, completing numerous trans-Pacific voyages.

Following his discharge, Tom earned a Bachelor’s degree in Mining Engineering from the Michigan College of Mining and Technology (Michigan Tech). His early post-college years were spent in Cleveland and Detroit as writer and editor for several industry publications.

Tom returned to Houghton and Michigan Tech in the late 1950’s-early 60’s and in his near 40 year tenure at the university held successively responsible positions in external and alumni relations.

Tom was a longtime and active member of St. Ignatius Loyola Parish of Hoighton, where he served as an usher and Eucharistic Minister for shut-ins. Tom was all about family. He volunteered for many of the parish’s special programs for communities of need in Houghton. He was very kind and generous to his church families in need, especially during the holidays often opening his home to folks. Although Tom wished to keep his donations to others anonymous, they were well appreciated.

Tom loved sailing on the blue waters and in the challenging winds of Lake Michigan, and reveled in the cross country skiing afforded by the Upper Peninsula’s long winters. Necessarily giving up sailing and skiing in his later years, he was a daily walker.

Tom is survived by his sister, Jane Hruby Hanlon and her husband Robert; as well as nine nieces and nephews. Besides his parents, he was also preceded in death by brothers, Louis and Joseph; and a sister, Mary Louise.

A Memorial Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10 a.m. on Thursday, July 9, 2020, at St. Ignatious Loyola Parish in Houghton, with Fr. John Martignon as celebrant. Arrangements are being handled by the Jukuri-Antila Funeral Home of Hancock, Antila Funeral Service, Inc. Online condolences may be expressed to the family at antilafuneral.com.


Raymond William Kauppila, 91, most recently of 1600 Mill Creek Court, Marquette, passed away on Sunday, June 14, 2020, while in the loving care of family and the Lake Superior Life Care & Hospice. He was formerly of 424 W. Ridge St., Marquette; and longtime Hancock resident.

Raymond was born in Iron Mountain, on February 17, 1929, son of the late Ida H. (Kuja) and Swan W. Kauppila.

Ray was a graduate of the Eben High School, Class of 1946. Ray Kauppila earned bachelor degrees in both Mechanical Engineering and Mathematics from the University of Michigan in 1951. He was first employed by Standard Oil in Whiting, Indiana, from 1951-1955 and then at Cliffs Dow in Marquette from 1955-1957. Ray then came to Tech as a teacher in 1957 and received an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Michigan Tech in 1960. He left Michigan Tech briefly to earn his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in 1968.

Kauppila served Michigan Tech as a teacher and researcher from 1957 until his retirement in 1988, other than a brief stint with P & H Crane in Escanaba from 1979-1980. He came to Tech after working in the industry for several years, bringing to the design curriculum an invaluable background, steeped in the realities of industrial design, yet firmly based on a foundation of mathematical and engineering science. His inquiring mind and his uncompromising quest for excellence left its mark on a generation of design students in the Mechanical Engineering Department. Few were unaffected by his intensity in the classroom and his insights in the design laboratory.

While at Michigan Tech he served a stint as chief engineer at the Keweenaw Research Center and maintained strong ties with the mining industry through his pioneering work in roof bolting. He was instrumental in the implementation of what is now called the Computer Aided Engineering Laboratory, and was a lead designer of the BAJA automobiles at Tech. Ray was never one to rest and after “retirement” worked as a consulting engineer at U.P. Fabricating from 1997-2012 and had also taught at NMU from 1991-1992.

He was a member of the Independent Apostolic Lutheran Church in Negaunee. Ray served on the Board of Review in Hancock, was a board member at AMCAB and had served numerous other boards and provided engineering expertise for many organizations, along with being a patent holder and enjoyed machine design.

Raymond is survived by three daughters, Susan (Gregory) Bovid of Midland, Audrey (William) Johnson of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Kandace (Tim) Reckinger, of Hartland, Wisconsin; a son, Rick (Pam) Kauppila of Negaunee; two brothers, Rolland W. (Linda) Kauppila of Dayton, Ohio and Rodney W. (Barbara) Kauppila of Rudyard; nine grandchildren, Adam (Britta) Kauppila, Janel Kauppila, Christopher (Karen) Bovid, Nicholas (Kristen) Bovid, Stanley (Jami) Bovid, Elena Davis, Jennifer (Jonathan) Walter, Lauren (William) Crowder and Aaron Reckinger; 13 great-great grandchildren; numerous nieces, nephews, cousins and a host of brothers and sisters in faith.

Ray was preceded in death by his wife, whom shared 65 years of marriage with, Irene E. (Besonen) Kauppila on Sept 24, 2017, and a brother, Wallace S. Kauppila who died in his childhood.

Graveside funeral services will be held at the Trout Creek Cemetery at 1 p.m. on Saturday, June 20, 2020 with Mike Peterson officiating.

Pallbearers will be Stan, Nick and Chris Bovid, Adam Kauppila., Aaron Reckinger and John Kauppila.

Ray’s obituary may also be viewed at bjorkandzhulkie.com where relatives and friends may leave a note of remembrance.


From Military Balls to Ooozeball: Curing Cabin Fever at Michigan Tech

By Allison Neely | University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections

Spring is definitely in the air at Michigan Tech! Papers have been turned in, classes have ended (at least for the spring), and another class of crazy smart Michigan Tech students have graduated.

A group dressed in military attire pose for a photo. A woman wearing a corsage stands in the middle of the group.
The 1968 Military Ball

While spring in the U.P. tends to be snowier, cooler, and briefer than other places, students at Michigan Tech know how to embrace these fledgling days of spring. For students, cabin fever quickly sets in following Winter Carnival, but before you know it our hearty Michigan Tech students can be seen rocking flip flops and shorts long before the snow fully recedes from campus. A slew of outdoor activities, campus-wide entertainment, and events each year helps get students through to the end of the academic year.
Even in its early years, Tech students enjoyed a variety of outdoor activities and events to beat the winter blues. One of the historically popular spring events on campus was the annual Military Ball. Sponsored by the Army and Air Force ROTC units, the dance was the second largest of the academic year and the biggest of the spring term. Typically each year had a theme with coordinated decor along with a noted live band. For instance, the 1962 annual dance was themed “Stairway to the Stars,” which included an entrance made to resemble a winding stairway and the cafeteria was fitted out with an “astronomical design with a fountain in the middle.” Much like the Winter Carnival celebrations, the Military Ball featured a Queen coronation with the ROTC groups sponsoring candidates and a judging committee made up ROTC members or cadets.

Students playing oozeball in front of Wadsworth Hall in Spring of 2000
Students playing Oozeball in front of Wadsworth Hall in Spring of 2000. Image courtesy of Michigan Tech Archives.

Spring in recent decades saw the addition of Greek Week festivities, which featured a wide variety of social activities. While the week-long celebration was a beloved campus event among the Greeks, its events were largely geared towards students involved in fraternities and sororities on campus and less of a community-wide spring celebration.

Later, Tech saw the incorporation of a more inclusive spring carnival called the Tech Carney. The Carney featured a traditional Flea Market, a balsa wood airplane contest, bike race, frisbee and yoyo contests, and a big party with a band. By the early 1980s the Tech Carney had morphed into a larger campus-wide outdoor celebration called Spring Fling. Hard to believe now, but Spring Fling at Michigan Tech has its origins in 1980. Originally called Spring Bash, the event included four live bands, a lobster bake, and frisbee show; along with Bocce Club and Volleyball Club tournaments and canoe races. Once again, the event was revised in the late 80s as Ventures Day before becoming what we know today as Spring Fling.

Officially started in the spring of 1990, Spring Fling was hosted by the Memorial Union Board (MUB) and held on the Friday of the 13th week of the spring semester. In its first year, approximately 50 organizations participated in the end-of-the-year carnival, which featured food and demonstration booths, activities like fencing, folk dancing, races, ultimate frisbee, and repelling. Tech Tea Time provided a sneak peek ahead of the festivities and in its second year featured refreshments (pizza and pop), a review of previous year’s highlights, and performances from the Michigan Tech Student Foundation, Alternatives Unlimited, and The Troupe.

Students playing oozeball on the lawn in front of Walker Hall.
Oozeball in front of Walker in 1999. Image courtesy of Michigan Tech Archives.

Among Spring Fling traditions has been the selection of a Spring Fling King, which began with the 1992 event. Eight finalists were selected to compete for the title of Spring Fling King, duking it out in the form of a talent competition. Winners received a crown, plaques or cash prizes. In past years Spring Fling has included special entertainment sponsored by the Student Entertainment Board. Performances have included local bands, a Tech Idol competition a la American Idol, as well as headliners such as Verve Pipe, which played during the 1995 Fling.
Likely the most popular event in the past has been the Oozeball Tournament. Our Flashback Friday photo features the 1999 Oozeball Tournament, a crazy mud volleyball tournament played in six inches of mud. According to an article written about Oozeball in 2001 here are the top 3 reasons why you would play:

  1. You like playing volleyball in weird conditions
  2. Mud baths are good for your skin
  3. You haven’t played in mud much since you were five and you kind of miss it

Two students covered in mud after an oozeball game.
The aftermath. Courtesy of Michigan Tech Archives.

As you can imagine, the weather doesn’t always cooperate for Spring Fling, but that’s also a long-standing tradition at Tech. In 2010, high winds and mild snow interrupted students’ merriment, forcing organizers to postpone the motorcycle show and in 2013 Tech sadly had to cancel Spring Fling altogether due to bad weather. You might be wondering about the Oozeball Tournament and weather conditions. According to our sources, the Oozeball Tournament usually was held unless the mud froze. Hearty Huskies have been know to dive into the chilly mud bath even after the tournament ended.

Spring festivities have been a staple at Tech for generations. Whether it’s dancing, lounging in a hammock, or diving headfirst into a mud bath, Tech students from all generations have made the most of springtime in the Copper Country. Here’s to another great spring and many, many more to come!


April Is for Fools!

By Emily Riippa | University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections

Michigan Tech students drove a Jeep into Douglass Houghton Hall in 1951.

April brings with it April Fool’s Day pranks, but Michigan Tech students have been known to get up to some mischief all year round. In June 1951, the men of Douglass Houghton Hall drove resident Guenther Frankenstein’s Jeep up the stairs of their dormitory and into the hallway. Although the guys thought the prank was a riot, Frankenstein recalled that the college administration wasn’t laughing and wanted to expel him. They eventually settled for probation.

The next year, fourteen Tech students–also residents of DHH–spent the night in jail for a risque joke that maybe wouldn’t fall into the category of “crazy smart”: along with more than fifty of their peers, they besieged the student dormitory at the St. Joseph School of Nursing in Hancock, hoping to come away with lingerie. Standing outside the school’s Ryan Hall, they shouted their demands for underwear to the young women residing within. Some even wandered into the furnace room before police arrived and arrested members of the group for their disorderly conduct. Eventually, a judge ordered that all charges against the men be dropped.

A set of computer punch cards.

We’ve heard rumors about other pranks that have taken place on Tech’s campus over the years, including some involving tweaks to computer programs on punch cards, but the files of the archives are remarkably bare. Do these tales bring back memories of your own college escapades, whether they took place five years ago or fifty? We’d love to hear your stories!


A Brief History of Women at Tech

By Emily Riippa | University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections

Photo from the 1980s of a Michigan Tech mining engineering student.

Huskies of yesterday and today will often mention “the ratio,” referring to the disproportionate number of male students compared to their female counterparts. According to the most recent statistics published by Undergraduate Admissions, women constitute some 28.2 percent of the Michigan Tech student body. This number may seem small, but it disguises a mighty tradition of accomplishment, innovation, and trailblazing. In honor of Women’s History Month, let’s take a whirlwind tour through how the lives of women at Tech have looked and changed over the years. Unfortunately, in such a small space as this, we can never do true justice to their stories!

Michigan Mining School admission record for Mary Louise Bunce dated Oct. 15, 1889.

Just four years after the Michigan Mining School was founded, at a time when coeducation was uncommon, the first women enrolled. Both Margaret McElhinney and Mary Louise Bunce taught in the public schools of Houghton, and in 1889 they became students themselves again, taking classes in chemistry and geology on a part-time basis. The number of women enrolled  remained small for many years, but their presence, once established, persisted. In 1933, Margaret Holley broke new ground for female Huskies by becoming the first woman to earn a bachelor’s degree from what was then called the Michigan College of Mining and Technology. Just a year later, she followed up her degree in general science with one in chemistry, then proceeded to a master’s program in general science again. So significant were Holley’s steps at Tech that she later served as a trustee and, under her married name of Margaret H. Chapman, helped to start a long-running scholarship fund in her name to support women’s education at Tech.

Women in a Michigan Tech lab.

The year that Margaret Holley finished her first bachelor’s degree, Tech enrolled a record-breaking number of fourteen “co-eds,” the nickname given to female students at the time. World War II changed not only the number of women at Tech but also the nature of what the college permitted them to study. Historically, women had been admitted to programs in science and some facets of engineering; Ilmi Watia, for example, received a civil engineering degree in 1938. Tech discouraged women from enrolling in certain mining engineering courses and highly technical programs. With young men away at war in vast numbers, however, the United States and Tech both found a need for women to step into roles that they had not otherwise filled. In 1943, the college promoted a new war training program for women that started to break down some of these barriers. The courses were intended for “all young women who wish to serve their country in this emergency by training themselves for essential jobs that carry pay commensurate with their vital importance,” according to a marketing brochure. Women completing the program–whose length varied from eight weeks to a year, depending on the course of study chosen–could immediately enter government or industrial work in roles ranging from the more traditional secretary to engineering technician, full professional practitioner (if they already had degrees in other subjects), and airplane ferry pilot. All courses carried college credit, and women who did not find the curricula of the war training programs to their fancy were encouraged to pursue the full range of coursework at MCMT, including technical fields.

The Smith House, which was used by female students.

From there, slowly and steadily, the population of Tech women continued to grow and blaze trails. In 1945, a women’s dorm opened in the house formerly occupied by Kappa Delta Psi. In the years that followed, the former residence of the Fred Smith family was converted to women’s housing, and, at various times, female students also resided in houses known by the names of Pryor and Robinson. The first woman to earn a degree from Tech in metallurgical and materials engineering graduated in 1947; the first female mechanical engineer at the college finished her program in 1948. By 1952, the college had begun efforts to recruit women in earnest, publishing pamphlets explaining the scientific and mathematical careers open to them with a degree from Tech. Women answered the call and enrolled in many courses of study, including forestry, biological sciences, and all varieties of engineering. By 1968, 8.5 percent of Michigan Tech students were female, rendering the college officially coeducational by the metrics of the time. That year, Co-Ed Hall (now known as McNair) opened to alleviate a shortage of on-campus housing for women. A few years prior, Wadsworth Hall had begun to offer a few spaces to female students. Douglass Houghton Hall, on the other hand, remained all-male until 1973.

Women at 2009 commencement.

Women’s involvement and visibility on campus continued to grow through the remainder of the 20th century. In the 1970s, for example, the first female cadets joined the Air Force ROTC program, and the first national sorority and women’s teams in nordic and alpine skiing came to campus. From 1975 to 1982, Michigan Tech’s nursing program graduated nearly 300 hundred women, representing a larger proportion of female enrollment than perhaps any other degree program on campus. Groups like Woman Sphere and Tech Women’s Connection formed to advocate for women’s issues and initiated important dialogues in the Michigan Tech community. Meanwhile, in 1993, a team of Michigan Tech women won the Intercollegiate Mining Competition, demonstrating both their prowess at mining techniques and the college’s historic roots. How appropriate for Michigan Tech women to literally break ground.

Michigan Tech student climbing.

In 1969, Dean Harold Meese wrote to the women of Tech that, in spite of being vastly outnumbered by men on campus, “you traditionally have more than overcome these odds academically by earning better grade point averages. This, I feel, is due to your above average intelligence and your strong desire to become a well educated person and to find a meaningful way of life.” Whether they joined the Husky family in 1889, 1959, 1999, or 2019, women at Michigan Tech have always exemplified a passion for knowledge and a dedication to leaving their mark on the world. They are making history, one day at a time.


University Cancellations

Instances Michigan Tech closed campus / cancelled classes.

Information sourced from alumni comments, past issues of Tech Alum Newsletter and local media. Comment below and help us fill in the blanks!

Date Reason Closed
Jan. 26, 1938 Snow/Wind
Nov. 22, 1963 Half Day; President Kennedy assassination
Nov. 25, 1963 President Kennedy funeral [per Kenneth Kok]
1964 Half Day; Snow
Fall 1967 Half Day; Power Outage [per Delbert Eggert]
Nov. 27, 1967 Snow (road closures prevented students from returning from break) [per Tom Porritt]
May 1970 Student Protests (following shootings at Kent State) [per John Baker]
Jan. 25, 1972

Snow (perhaps only some professors canceled [per Jim Rosteck])

Nov. 10, 1975 Half Day; Power Outage (Day of the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald) [per Garth Bayette]
Nov. 11, 1975 Power Outage (storm/high winds) [per Garth Bayette]
1979 Rain/Flooding [per Michael Sprague] 
1979 Snow
Jan. 18, 1982 Cold/Snow
1983 Half Day
Dec. 2, 1985

“Thanksgiving Drive” Many roads closed – students unable to return to campus following Thanksgiving break.

Jan. 19, 1994 Half Day; Cold (campus closed at noon)
Jan. 20, 1994 Half Day; Cold (campus opened at noon)
Jan. 18, 1996 Snow (also the day of the bank robbery/hostage situation at MFC-First National Bank in Houghton)
Potentially a second day of closure that month [per Dulci Avouris and Brian Juopperi]
1997 Cold/Snow/Wind
2000 Cold/Wind
Sept. 11, 2001 Half Day; 9/11 (maybe not an official closure)
Nov. 5, 2001 Partial Campus Closure; Bomb threat at U.J. Noblet Forestry Building
Nov. 14-15, 2002 Power Outage (electrical cable failure) [per J Haapala and Becky Ong]
Summer 2003 Power Outage (Squirrel ate wires in a transformer)
Mar. 2, 2007

Snow

Jan. 30, 2008

Snow/Wind

Feb. 29, 2012 Half Day; Snow/Wind
Feb. 19, 2013 Half Day; Snow/Cold — Career Fair still held
Feb. 20, 2013 Snow/Cold — Career Fair Interviews still held
Feb. 21, 2014 Half Day; Snow/Wind
July 22, 2016 Power Outage (repairing transformer problem in Daniell Heights)
June 18, 2018 Flood — Day after Father’s Day Flood
Jan. 30, 2019 Cold/Snow
Jan. 31, 2019 Cold/Snow 
Feb. 25, 2019 Snow/Wind (25+ inches and gusts up to 68 MPH)
Nov. 27, 2019 Half Day; Snow/Wind (Day before Thanksgiving, students on break)

Winter Carnival Memories and Traditions

By Allison Neely | University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections

Participants in the 1955 Beard Contest
Participants in the 1955 Beard Contest. Courtesy of Michigan Tech Archives

Michigan Technological University’s Winter Carnival began in 1922 as a one-day ice carnival presented by the Student Organization. Students performed traditional circus acts–but with students in costumes instead of live animals. According to an article in the Michigan Tech Lode from 1978, the first carnival was held at the Amphidrome and featured four or five student-constructed and manned bucking broncos on ice skates. An even bigger event was held the following year, again with the circus theme, and featured a giraffe made by the Kappa Delta Psi fraternity, a buffalo made by Sigma Rho, and a camel and elephant created by Theta Tau. The Michigan College of Mines band was also featured but only played two songs, a march and a waltz. According to the article, the event garnered wide community attention with approximately 1,100 people in attendance at the 1924 carnival. The carnival proved so popular that the students took their show on the road to Calumet and Marquette.

The carnival was so well-received among the community and students that by 1927 it was established as an annual event. By then, the festival had expanded to a two-day affair and included a formal parade with floats, a dog-sled race, a snowshoe race, and foot races on ice. While college students were the primary participants in the Winter Carnival activities, since the event was a joint venture between the college and the local towns, there were also categories for high school students. Among the highlights of the 1927 carnival was a ski ride behind an airplane on the Portage Canal at 60 miles per hour.!

The very late 1920s and early 1930s saw a hiatus for the Winter Carnival, and by 1930 festivities were suspended in the aftermath of the stock market crash. In 1934, the University’s student chapter of the Blue Key Honor Fraternity resurrected the winter celebration and introduced not only a three-mile snowshoe race, a Snow-Ball dance, a hockey game, and the event’s best known tradition: snow statues. The establishment of the Mont Ripley Ski Hill in 1940 brought festivities across the Portage with ski meets, including the Michigan State Amateur Ski Championship meet, held to coincide with Winter Carnival.

Winter Carnival was again suspended during World War II until 1946. When it was restarted, the carnival saw the inclusion of a stage revue in which fraternities, sororities, and other campus organization presented skits for the enjoyment of the crowd and performers alike. A beard contest was also established in the 1940s.

Carnival grew and evolved over the next couple of decades with attempts at establishing a Fun Night in 1954, which included various student organization booths set up at the Dee Stadium, much like we see at K-Day each year. The Student Council replaced the Fun Night two years later with a concert by groups like the Four Preps or the Limelighters, and in 1961 the Winter Carnival welcomed the inclusion of the popular Broomball event. The Flare Pageant, which had been done in previous years, was restarted in 1962 and featured “skiers carrying colored torches at night down Mont Ripley, forming intricate patterns of light” on the ski hill.

The first place snow sculpture for 1974
The first place snow sculpture for 1974

While Winter Carnival today looks much different from its early years, for the most part Winter Carnival has largely retained its current format since the early 1970s. The snow sculptures, crowning of a Winter Carnival Queen, and annual broomball tournament continue to be staples that have come to define this major Tech tradition. Other events have made fleeting appearances. Highlights of the last fifty years have included some quirky activities unique to the Michigan Tech carnival, including shipments of snowballs sent to Southwest Texas State University for an annual snowball fight. For over two decades, Copper Country snowballs were packed in dry ice and flown to Texas, much to the delight of the Southwest students. Occasionally, the shipment posed some unusual problems like when the 1971 shipment, carefully packed by members of Blue Key, arrived hard as rocks in Texas. Their solution to the problem? A snow cone machine! That’s right, Southwest Texas State students settled for sweet frozen treats instead of a snowball fight that year.

Over the decades, Tech students have competed in everything from snow volleyball and tug-o-war on ice to ice bowling, snoccer (snow soccer), and human dog sled races. One highlight of recent years coinciding with Winter Carnival has been Tech students and community members coming together for a collaborative competition: working together to achieve winter glory in the form of Guiness Book of World Record titles. Since 2013, Tech has held the record for the largest snowball. The snowball, measuring 10.04 m (32.94 ft.) in circumference. was rolled on March 29, 2013. Within the last couple of decades, Tech has also earned titles for most snow angels made simultaneously in one place, largest snowball fight, and most snowmen built in one hour.

Today, the Winter Carnival continues into its 97th year on the Michigan Tech campus and remains an important part of the campus tradition, bringing alumni, students, staff and faculty, as well as a wide range of local and regional community members to Houghton for its annual winter celebration. Once again, students will be back in the swing of spring semester classes and beginning the exciting task of building snow statues on and near campus — so much to look forward to in the coming weeks at Michigan Tech.

Winter Carnival certainly has and continues to have a rich history on the Michigan Tech campus. Interested in learning more? The Michigan Tech Archives holds a wide range of collections and resources pertaining to Winter Carnival at Tech. Included in the Archives’ holdings are records of the Blue Key Honor Society, pictorials, photographs, ephemera, and a plethora of great newspaper coverage in the Copper Country Vertical Files collection.